Trials, tribulations and rewards – 2014 vintage in McLaren Vale »

And suggestions of exciting surprises from this year's harvest

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Vineyards at McLaren Vale on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia

Vineyards at McLaren Vale on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia [©South Australian Tourism Commission]

Harvest in Jim Zerella's vineyard in the McLaren Vale
Coriole Winery at McLaren Vale on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia
Serafino Wines - McLaren Vale
Maxwell Wines, McLaren Vale, South Australia, has produced mead honey wine for almost 50 years


A wet beginning to the season (average winter rainfall 300-350mm) did not persist with little further rain received after November. The resulting dry spring ensured the traditional low disease risk in McLaren Vale prevailed again.

The impact of summer was felt in McLaren Vale with two major heat waves in January testing grapevine tolerance to extreme conditions. Temperatures in excess of 42°C were recorded on five consecutive days with vineyard peak temperatures even higher.

Daily temperatures were 12°C or more above the normal average temperature between January 13th to the 17th. Fruit shrivel and leaf burn in some areas evidenced the effect of the heat, whilst accompanying high winds exacerbated conditions.

Subsequently relief and challenge came with a major rain event. 40mm fell in 24 hours, raising concerns of fruit splitting. Thankfully, this fear was alleviated as berries took up water but predominantly did not split.

The water retained by the vines had the effect of delaying harvest from the beginning of February to the beginning of March, allowing flavour to balance with sugar ripeness. Mild and warm conditions in March accompanied by cool nights resulted in an orderly vintage, with steady and timely intake of ripened fruit.  

Shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and grenache continue to dominate McLaren Vale production, with interest in mourvedre growing, whilst a fourfold premium in export per litre price versus the national average reinforces the quality of and demand for McLaren Vale wine.

As wineries clean up after vintage, feedback suggests some exciting surprises will come out of 2014, reinforcing McLaren Vale’s reputation for textural, flavoursome wines whose character reflects their provenance.


  • McLaren Vale (SA)

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August 12th, 2014
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